Hatzin, a young teenager from Mexico City, travels to collect the remains of his father, which have been found in a communal grave amidst the huge skies and empty landscape of Northern Mexico. But a casual encounter with a man who shares a physical resemblance with his father fills him with doubts and hope about his parent’s true whereabouts.
Lorenzo Vigas becomes in year 2015, the first Latin American to ever win the prestigious Golden Lion at the 72nd Venice International Film Festival for his debut film Desde allá (From afar). Vigas had obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology in 1994, and while he was studying for his Master’s degree in Molecular Biology, he decided to move to New York to attend filmmaking workshops at New York University. Later on, he worked in Caracas directing the documentary series Expedición (Expedition), produced by RCTV, and institutional documentaries for the production company Cinesa. In 2004, his short film Los elefantes nunca olvidan (Elephants never forget) premiered at the Cannes International Critic´s Week. This short film was Part 1 of a fiction trilogy that builds on the theme of the father figure. Part II was Desde allá. In 2016, he presents in Official Section at the 73rd Venice Film Festival, the feature documentary about his father, the renowned Latin American painter Oswaldo Vigas, titled The Orchid Seller. He is currently preparing the last part of his trilogy, La Caja (The box), to be filmed in Mexico on 2020.
2021 The Box (La Caja)
2016 The Orchid Seller (El Vendedor de Orquídeas)
2015 From Afar (Desde Allá)
In Mexico, as in the rest of Latin America, an innumerable amount of fractured families exist whereby the absence of the paternal figure is a common and nearly routine reality. (click to read more)
Many young people grow and are forged by this absence. This theme, so fundamental in defining an individual, has particularly caught my interest as a screenwriter. Who we are or who we cease to be, without a doubt, is directly, frankly and powerfully related to who was, or ceased to be, our progenitor. Who we are as a continent is also frankly related to this absence. It is not mere chance that Latin America ,where phenomena such as Peronism or Chavism has left such a profound social, political and human mark: The figure of a leader has come to fill, from the psychological perspective, that emptiness, that need, that father that was never present at home and who we are desperately trying to find.
I have been asked if this has been my own experience but in my case it has been the contrary. My father, the visual artist, Oswaldo Vigas, despite being one of the most important painters in Venezuela and having suffered an extremely demanding public life, was always affectively present. I think, in my case, I was able to connect with the image of the Latin American father on an archetypal level. As the saying goes… “You do not choose your obsessions, they choose you.”
The Box is the third and last installment of a trilogy I have developed concerning the Latin American father. The first installment, the short, Elephants Never Forget, was the seed that gave fruit to the second installment, my debut fiction feature, From Afar, which won The Golden Lion at the 2015 Venice Film Festival.
During their budding adolescence in Latin America, many young men are entangled with their fathers in terms of working alongside them. They begin to work when they are still lacking the emotional solidity to understand what work they are actually conducting. When they are still without a value structure allowing them to discern what is ethically right or wrong. Hatzin, the young protagonist of The Box, finds himself confronted with this situation. The Box is a coming of age story but in the Latin American context it aquires a special revelance being in the majority of the continent’s population is made up of young people. A population that will determine the social and political future for ensuing generations. It is a film about the crisis of identity every young person goes through during adolescence but told in the context of a country where so many missing persons found in communal graves is converted to a collective identity crisis.
In The Box I reflect upon the theme of identity from various points of view. Latin American history is very young. Until relatively a relatively short time ago, we were still European colonies; we are, as a continent, trying to understand who we are and where we are going. Hatzin represents, in his brief adolescence, a thematic symbol to approach the theme from various perspectives.
The wound many Latin American countries share is the foundation: the identity of a great number of missing persons as a result of extreme right wing, dictatorial procedures. In Mexico’s case, the result of a war between the Federal Government and drug traffickers in addition to the consequence of the extortion of the vast amount of people trying to enter the United States from the rest of the continent who become victims of cartels and other criminal organizations along their journey . In the specific case of The Box, the mysterious disappearance of women from every corner of the country, who, when arriving at cities of industrial mass production, such as Juarez, strangely vanish. It is calculated that the number of women disappearing in this manner during the last few years reaches the thousands. The Box is not attempting to explain this phenomenon, it is only based on a documented occurrence.
In The Box, Hatzin, a young teenager from Mexico City, travels to collect the remains of his father, which have been found in a communal grave in the northern part of Mexico. But a casual encounter with a man who shares a physical resemblance with his father puts in doubt the certainty of his father’s death and above all, opens the possibility of re-establishing a father-son relationship the young man so deeply desires.
This is how our young protagonist meets Mario. But is Mario Hatzin’s real father? Or does the young man hold onto this idea at any cost? The ambiguity utilized in The Box as a narrative tool within the context of searching for one’s identity, would have no reason to be told were it to be a story of certainties. It is the ambiguity that propels us to continuously debate who we are, or who we would have been able to become.
The wait for certainty over a family member’s whereabouts is an experience lived by thousands of Latin Americans. For them, being unable to bury a relative has left them in limbo, an undefined space between purgatory and hell. How can we know who we are if we are unable to close the chapter of where we come from? If one is fortunate enough to find a family member’s remains, the doubt of whether or not these are really the relative’s remains will always exist. Many families of the missing, even after finding their remains, stay with the feeling that probably, even using modern techniques, their relative is still alive and it was all a mistake. For Mexico, the missing represent the impossibility of being able to define itself as a nation free of the past: a country whose pre-Hispanic past clashes with modern life and the possibility of converting into its northern neighbor.
(click to read more)
Hernán Mendoza is a Mexican actor and director. He studied acting at »Nucleo de Estudios Teatrales«, a school founded by Héctor Mendoza, Luis de Tavira and Julio Castillo. He started his carrer in 1988 in the play »Fedra«, written and directed by Héctor Mendoza. Since then, he has starred more than 50 plays in the most important theathers in Mexico. He also has appeared in TV series from HBO, Lemon Films and other production companies. In 2003, Hernán started to work in cinema in the film »El Zurdo«. His work in »Después de Lucia«, earned him his first nomination to the Ariel Award, the most important prize in Mexican Cinema.
(click to read more)
Hatzín Navarrete is a Mexican young emerging Mexican actor. His talent was discovered after a casting for »The Box« by Lorenzo Vigas. Hatzín got the part, being his first work and main role in a film.
Hatzin Navarrete as Hatzin Leyva
Hernán Mendoza as Mario Enderle
Elián González as Richi
Cristina Zulueta as Mario's wife
Dulce Alexa Alfaro as Laura Morales
Graciela Beltrán as Laura Morales's mother
Director Lorenzo Vigas
Producers Lorenzo Vigas, Michel Franco, Jorge Hernández Aldanda
Cinematographer Sergio Armstrong G. (ADFCH)
Writers Lorenzo Vigas, Paula Markovitch
Editors Isabela Monteiro de Castro,
Pablo Barbieri (SAE)
Production Desginer Daniela Schneider
Sound Designer Waldir Xavier
Sound Mixers Jaime Baksht, Michelle Couttolenc
Original title: La Caja
International title: The Box
Duration: 92 min
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Original language: Spanish
Countries of production: Mexico, USA
Production Companies: Teorema,
SK Global Entertainment
Co-production Companies: Labodigital
With the support of: Whisky